Cody Church, completing a BDP certificate in Environment & Sustainability, undertook an independent research project called “Natural Burial: The Effect of Resurgent Social Death Practices on Attitudes toward Environmentalism among the Working Class,” which explored the funeral industry and possible motivations for a return to natural burial methods.
Please describe your project and how you came up with the idea
The practice of natural burial was first introduced to me during an introductory American Studies course and I thought I could research the bigger picture. My project tracks the evolution of the funeral industry throughout time, and the possible causes and motivations for a reversion to older styles of internment like natural burial.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
Spending time in the databases was incredibly interesting. From time to time I would get sidetracked and end up on a topic completely unrelated to funerals or burial methods but still captivating. I feel like the amount of literature I consumed when I worked on the project will stick with me, and it’s so much better when you find it on your own.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
Finding the connections between environmental and social issues through this project proved to be interesting, and I would love to pursue the subject further in the future. As for concrete plans, I would love to work with another historian again soon.
Discuss the relationship you had with your faculty mentor and how they helped you during this Connecting Experience.
Dr. Erica Bsumek pushed me to focus on the historical context of this issue and I am extremely satisfied with the result. The section continued to grow and grow through our discussions and my independent research. Finding a historian to sponsor this research was a great decision and I would love to work with her again in the future.